Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29, 2012

Clues of the French Presence in Southeastern America

Despite centuries of speculation and decades of detailed archaeology, the original Fort Caroline has never been found. It may seem as if an early French presence in America is but a figment of the imagination. Time destroyed the evidence of La Caroline’s location just as the Spanish had wiped out those who lived within its walls. It may seem as if there is nothing to suggest that the Protestant French ever settled Southeastern America . . . but, ironically, sites that were impermanent yield proof of occupation while well-grounded colonies such as Fort Caroline remain a mystery.

In October 1565, there were a handful of men who --- rightfully --- did not trust Pedro Menéndez’s suggestion of surrender at Matanzas Inlet. Instead they staggered to a place near modern-day Canaveral National Seashore, building a temporary camp and praying that unfriendly Timucuans and bloodthirsty conquistadors would remain ignorant of their location. Some of the objects found at Canaveral include ceramic fragments and French coins. Many handmade tools, the likes of which the native Timucuans could not have produced, were found as well. All this seems to suggest the French encampment at Canaveral. 

Further up the coast, in a South Carolina locale that was first known as the French settlement of Charlesfort, then the Spanish colony of Santa Elena, and finally Parris Island, remains of Charlesfort were found in the 1990s. Most of this evidence involved French pottery from the appropriate era. Charlesfort had been founded in 1562 by Jean Ribault and René de Goulaine de Laudonnière and was later left to rot and ruin after a mutiny and hard times forced the colonists to flee.

One must again ask why, if such sites have yielded beloved proof of the Huguenots’ colonization, Fort Caroline’s location has not yet been discovered. There is certainly a reason. Perhaps the Lord is waiting until the opportune moment, until it will be fully appreciated. One can only hope it will be soon . . .

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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